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It is illuminating to see the representatives of the country club hypocrisy party perform before the cameras as they look each of us in the eye and tell us how dedicated each is to an America set free from its own government. Today’s Republican Party is the party of free market bonanzas for the wealthy disguised as tax cuts for all. Only in right-wing America can Trump’s delusional grandeur backed by his daddy’s million dollar “loan” to get him started get applause from within both gated communities and trailer parks. Apparently, the big idea here is the idea of a free ride for everyone, if only we could get the government out of the way.

Getting the government out of the way in right-wing jargon suggests dedication to a lofty goal. In reality, it means giving wealthy Americans even more opportunity to wreak havoc than they have now, unchecked by the very institutions of government that are relied upon by the rest of us to keep capitalist exuberance from eating its young. (Amusingly, every good capitalist yearns for government intervention that zealously protects his/her interests at the expense of competing good capitalists to allow maximum profit with minimal risk, and without a moment’s thought about the common good.)

The latest Republican “debate” again demonstrates how scary it is that one of those clowns is going to get at least 45% of the American vote in the next Presidential election, putting him/her way too close to the authority to undermine the government they say they want to lead. They fall all over each other to see who can demonstrate the highest level of disdain for government and governance, yet each is seeking to manage the very government they so disparage, while completely ignoring the contradiction.

Right-wing America ignores this contradiction by loudly trumpeting its belief that America used to be great and needs to be made great again, as if the country has taken an unfortunate vacation from greatness, particularly during the Obama years. The secret to achieving future greatness for these folks seems to lie in selecting a person to lead the US Government who sees America’s greatness in non-governmental terms. (It bears noting that this may come as a surprise to the right-wingers that pollute the US military.)

For right-wingers and a whole lot of other folks in America who buy into “American exceptionalism” rhetoric, trying to define a vision of this nation’s greatness without reference to the governmental institutions at its core could prove to be a daunting challenge. A great nation without a solid institutional foundation seems an oxymoron. As if in recognition of this, the American exceptionalism crowd runs around the world routinely and loudly touting our American institutions as the only model for the rest of the world to follow if it is ever to benefit from America’s greatness.

This is another way of saying that those drinking the "exceptionalism" kool-aid must believe that this nation’s greatness has some institutional foundation that has permitted greatness in the past and will allow us to reclaim it in the future. Pay attention here - that foundation is America’s government and its system of governance.

Would that all of this “greatness” yielded a pointed question at the upcoming “debates.”

Mr. Trump, you say that you want to make America great again. Please define “great” in this context and relate that definition to America’s past and present “greatness.”

I am relatively certain that were this question asked at the next Republican debate (now less than two weeks away), we would all be awash in blather about democracy, freedom, human rights, and the like. It is highly unlikely that any of the candidates would pause to note the irony of a platform advocating less US Government intervention in American lives and increased US Government intervention in the affairs of other nations.

Nor is it likely that any of the candidates will note that it is the US Government that is the face of America, that tells the nation and the world who we are and what we say we stand for. Amazon, Facebook and Apple sell only themselves, the US Government sells America. Yet it seems to completely escape the Republican candidates and their acolytes that it will be hard to serve credibly as chief salesman while at the same time working to sabotage the business.

Leading a nation means at its very core leading that nation’s government. Efforts to get the government out of the way will weaken both the nation and the credibility of its leadership. Republican obstruction to meaningful governance to date has already done so. A nation’s greatness can never be measured by the number of people it can kill or the number of uneducated and unhealthy citizens it can hide beneath a plethora of rhetoric and a veil of ignorance. It can be measured, however, by how its government protects lives, educates its children, and provides access to healthcare for all of its citizens.

The coming year will bring a measure of gravitas to what to this point has been a political circus. When circus turns to crucible, candidates dedicated to undermining the public institutions they seek to serve hopefully will be perceived by many as threats not saviors. When it comes time to choose a leader, it can only be hoped that America will choose a leader who is committed to building a strong and vibrant federal government that will strive mightily for the common good both at home and abroad.

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